It seems everyone wants to get into payments processing game. First there were reports of Apple launching a mobile payments network built on the back of iTunes, and now the Wall Street Journal is saying Amazon(s amzn) has the same idea, using its Kindle line and relationship with millions of online shoppers to build a point-of-sale payments platform that could compete with the likes of both Verifone(s pay) and Square.
Though Amazon’s plans aren’t firmly set, it’s supposedly weighing a two-sided payments model that would allow it to sell Kindle tablets and accompanying credit card processing technology to brick-and-mortar retailers as well as sell consumers a kind of digital wallet, the Journal reported.
That wallet in the most basic sense might simply link a customer’s Amazon account to the point-of-sale network, allowing customers to take advantage of coupons or promotions distributed by Amazon. The Journal’s unnamed sources, however, said Amazon might go one step further and let customers use their smartphones in place of plastic. A lot of companies have tried this approach – from Google(s goog) and the mobile carriers to Square and PayPal(s ebay).
Amazon may be thinking it can boost its chances of making such a digital wallet work if it launches it own Kindle smartphone, but that could just be wishful thinking. Google has its own handset division — though not for much longer — and that hasn’t helped Google Wallet’s fortunes. While the notion of a mobile wallet may sound appealing to many, it has to reach a critical mass of both consumers and merchants to be useful. Otherwise people will just keep using the credit and debit cards in their physical wallets.